A defense attorney said he still does not have access to a medical examiner's report on the death of a 3-year-old child in Duluth last September.
Jordan William Carter, 30, was arrested and charged in December with unintentional second-degree murder after authorities said his claim of an accidental fall failed to account for the serious blunt-force trauma suffered by his fiancee's son, Cameron Joseph Gordon.
Carter has since posted a bond and is out of custody. Twin Cities attorney Eric Olson told a judge Friday that he has received at least preliminary police reports, but still lacks the autopsy data.
"Obviously, that's an important piece of this puzzle," Olson said at the hearing in State District Court. "I need that before we can finalize any formal plans of how to proceed. I'm a little confused because the complaint mentions the medical examiner's findings, but yet we don't have the medical examiner's report."
St. Louis County prosecutor Vicky Wanta apologized for the delay, saying she also was "a little frustrated" by the situation. Wanta said she's been told that the report simply needs a signature for final authorization and that her office has been contacting the medical examiner nearly every day.
Judge Theresa Neo continued the hearing to March 29. Assuming he has received full reports, Carter could enter a plea or notify the court of any challenges to probable cause or constitutional issues at that time.
According to court documents, Cameron and his mother, Heather Bouchard, lived with Carter and his family on the 4800 block of East Colorado Street in the Lakeside neighborhood. Bouchard would work during the day, while Carter would care for the child.
Carter allegedly told police that he was in the kitchen preparing dinner Sept. 3 when he heard Cameron fall down the stairs. He said he went to check on the child and saw that he "bounced up like it's no big deal," according to a criminal complaint.
But an hour later, he reported, Cameron vomited. Carter said he asked his mother, a nurse, to check on the child because he feared he may have a concussion. Carter reportedly told police Cameron didn't eat for the rest of the day and vomited again but otherwise seemed to be getting back to normal, the complaint states.
Cameron was "back to his normal routine" Sept. 4, eating meals and playing with toys. Authorities said Carter and Bouchard texted throughout the day, with the defendant at one point writing: "You gave birth to satan."
Carter told investigators he asked Cameron to go clean up his room around 4:45 p.m. that day. Police said he continued to communicate with Bouchard, but missed three calls from her around 5:30 p.m. as she made her way home.
Carter, according to the complaint, stated that he went into Cameron's room during that time and found him unresponsive. He told investigators he "shook, slapped and splashed water" on the child to try to get him to wake up.
As Bouchard arrived home, Carter raced outside with Cameron and told her to get back in the car and drive to the hospital. The mother placed a 911 call at 5:35 p.m., saying she was worried they would not make it in time to save the child.
Police met the family about a block from their response. An officer began performing CPR and Cameron was rushed to Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center.
PREVIOUSLY: Duluth man charged with second-degree murder
According to the complaint, doctors expressed concern that Cameron was a victim of child abuse, reporting "bruising scattered down his body" and a traumatic brain injury. He was quickly flown to the Children's Minnesota hospital in Minneapolis.
Staff at Children's Minnesota later reported bruising to Cameron's head, forearm, hip, shins and back. He was said to be suffering from hemorrhaging in the brain and retinas, as well as internal abdominal injuries. A healing rib fracture was estimated to be several weeks old.
A doctor with the Midwest Children's Resource Center examined Cameron and "assessed that his injuries were not consistent with a stairway fall," the complaint states. She said a deep brain injury would be expected to occur shortly after the trauma was inflicted, not a "prolonged period" as described in Carter's account.
After all lifesaving measures were exhausted and Cameron remained unresponsive, a decision was made to harvest his organs. He was pronounced dead on the afternoon of Sept. 6.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office ruled Cameron's death a homicide by blunt-force trauma to the head and neck. According to the complaint, Dr. Lorren Jackson concurred that the boy's "constellation of injuries were not consistent with a fall down the stairs" and that he would not have returned to his normal self after suffering the injury.